Case scenario

Geoff presents to the pharmacy requesting some advice from you, the pharmacist. Geoff tells you that his 5-year-old daughter, Maisie, has had hard and large bowel movements for the past 3 months. She is increasingly distressed and visibly in pain when passing a stool. Geoff notices that his daughter has been ‘holding in’ her poo and refusing to sit on the toilet when she needs to open her bowels. You inform Geoff that she is likely experiencing functional constipation and that he should take his daughter to the GP for an assessment.

Learning objectives

After successful completion of this CPD activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Describe the management of constipation in children
  • Discuss when referral is required for constipation in children
  • Explain how pharmacists can translate knowledge into practice when managing patients and carers of children with constipation.

Competency standards (2016) addressed: 1.1, 1.3, 1.5, 2.3, 3.2, 3.5

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Introduction

Constipation is a common ailment that is experienced by approximately 1 in 3 children.1 It is defined as having fewer than normal bowel movements and/or hard stools (or faeces).1 Stools may be painful, difficult to pass, and associated with retention.2 Constipation can be classified as normal (sometimes referred to as acute) or chronic.3 Normal constipation lasts for a brief period (no more than several days), usually due to dietary changes or decreased fluid intake. It can be corr

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